ANIME & MANGA - Review
11:00 - 19th July 2015, by David West

Compound Cinematics: Akira Kurosawa And I

Shinobu Hashimoto might not be a familiar name outside of the most devoted Japanese cinephiles, but he was one of Japan’s greatest screenwriters and a vital contributor to many of Akira Kurosawa’s finest works, including Rashomon and Seven Samurai. Hashimoto had a successful career of his own, but his relationship with the great director and the films they made are the focus of Compound Cinematics, so even the magnificent Hara-kiri, which Hashimoto wrote, is mentioned merely in passing.

Hashimoto paints Kurosawa with warts and all, not shying away from the filmmaker’s infamous temper – “Mr Kurosawa’s face was utterly crimson with rage, his expression that of a painted red demon,” is just one vivid description of a Kurosawa eruption. The book digs deep into the creative process that Kurosawa employed with his team of writers and explores how that method changed over time – in Hashimoto’s opinion, for the worse. Despite his considerable regard for Kurosawa, Hashimoto never minces words – “It was poor, boring and just very tiresome” is his summation of the screenplay for Kagemusha. Sometimes Hashimoto’s attention to detail seems almost obsessive. He meticulously notes which train lines he takes whenever he travels, but the account of the failed project A Samurai’s Day is a great example of the obsessive attention to detail he brought to his craft – the production was abandoned because no one could find out whether samurai ate lunch or not.

At times unflattering and unflinching but always fascinating, Hashimoto’s portrait of Kurosawa is insightful and incisive.
SCORE: 5/5
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